Grandview has a smoking ban.
The Board of Aldermen on Tuesday voted unanimously for a “clean air ordinance” that will ban smoking in restaurants and other enclosed public locations on Jan. 1, 2012. Bars will be exempt from the ban until Aug. 1, 2014.
That’s bars – not “restaurant-bars.” That means two drinking establishments classified as restaurant-bars – namely The Highlander and Open Road Bar and Grill – will have to ban smoking in 2012. Others with bar-only licenses will have two more years after that. A restaurant-bar is one with at least 51 percent food sales (or 60 percent if they are within 1,000 feet of a bar). A “bar” is one that only serves drinks and cannot be open on Sundays.
Babeeboys Restaurant and Lounge, which is currently a restaurant-bar, is in the process of obtaining a bar license from the city. Highlander and Open Road can’t get a bar license because they are already within 1,000 feet of another bar and current city ordinance only allows five bars in the city limits.
“This is going to kill my Sunday business, which is my best day in football season,” said Babeeboys owner Lonnie Mabin. “But I want to smoke for another two and a half years. We’ll take this little victory now and worry about Sundays later.”
Jeremiah Bullfrogs, which doesn’t officially have a bar license, is exempt from the ban until 2014 because it is a “hotel bar.”
Bar owners fought hard against a ban, showing up in droves at the board’s meetings on the issue.
Alderman Brent Steeno and Alderwoman Annette Turnbaugh wanted over-21 restaurant-bars to also be exempt, but Mayor Steve Dennis said the city’s attorney, Joe Gall, said that would leave the city open to lawsuits from establishments like Applebee’s and 54th Street Bar & Grill, which allow all ages. Similar lawsuits are already filed against the city of Blue Springs, which allowed smoking in some types of bars but not in others.
“I don’t want my neighbors to pay for a lawsuit,” said Alderman John Maloney, explaining why he at first wanted restaurant-bars exempt, but changed his mind.
During the often contentious meeting, Dennis had to step in and stop arguments between board members.
“Let’s keep this civil,” Dennis said after Aldermen Joe Runions, Steeno and Turnbaugh raised their voices and interrupted one another. “I’m not hearing a whole lot of give and take.”
Aldermen Runions and Leonard Jones wanted a total ban that would begin in January. Both compromised and agreed to give bars a few more years. They, along with Alderman Jim Crain, insisted on only two years. Aldermen Steeno, Turnbaugh and Maloney wanted to give bars three years.
“I want to give them some time to change their business model,” Steeno said.
Runions scoffed at that.
“They can change their business model overnight,” he said, drawing a negative reaction from the bar owners in attendance.
Ultimately, the board decided the smoking ban on bars would take place on Aug 1, 2014, which will be three years after the passage of the ordinance.
Joe McLaughlan, owner of The Highlander, told the board the ban was unfair, since his establishment, a “restaurant-bar,” would have to ban smoking while the Doghouse, classified as a “bar,” at the opposite end of the strip mall on Highgrove where his business is located, will be able to allow customers to smoke. He said he only became a “restaurant-bar” after being forced to move within 1,000 feet of an existing bar.
“I opened in 2000 and they sold the building, so we had to move – that was the only nice location that was available,” he said. “Please reconsider.”
Dennis said he was sorry, but that he was confident the board had made a well-reasoned, if tough, decision.
“This isn’t the way I want government involved in people’s lives but it’s the way things are right now,” Dennis said. “There’s no easy win on this thing.”